Yesterday astronaut Chris Hadfield tweeted a breathtaking image of Lake Baikal from the International Space Station:
As you can see, Lake Baikal’s surface is completely frozen right now. The lake typically freezes over in January and melts in April, though the duration of ice cover has been decreasing in recent years due to changes in climate in the region.
As we’ve mentioned before, the meter-thick ice on Lake Baikal plays an important role in the lake environment. Some algae, like the unique diatom Aulacoseira baicalensis, thrive in winters under the ice. Because of the importance of under-ice conditions to the biodiversity of the lake, a few members of our group will be traveling to Siberia next month to collect samples (while others of us stay in sunny southern California and eagerly await blog posts and photos).
In the meantime, as I write this post another group of scientists is en route to Baikal to study the effects of human activity and natural climate variability on the lake’s ecosystem. They are blogging about their work here and tweeting updates at #Baikal13. We wish them safe travels and a productive trip. Stay warm, friends! And best of luck to Dr. Anson Mackay on the Baikal Ice Marathon!